WASHINGTON D.C., OCT. 4: Garbage rubbish truck with rear end loader parked in Washington D.C., United States taken on Oct. 4, 2009.

The arrival and development of the garbage truck in the Netherlands

Until the Middle Ages, everyone cleared up their own garbage or put it on the street. Then a cart pulled by horses came along to pick it up. Nowadays, waste collection in the Netherlands is done by motorized garbage trucks. We would like to tell you more about how the garbage truck came into being and what variants there are today.

In this blog article you’ll read:

The origins

We have all become better at sorting and recycling waste. This is necessary in consideration of the environment. The image below shows how the separation and collection of waste has developed. From putting garbage on the street to recycling, disposal via sewers and collection via motorized waste trucks.

Cart pulled by horses
The forerunner of the garbage truck is a cart pulled by horses. This method of garbage collection was used until the end of the 19th century. In 1910 the first ‘automobile garbage truck’ was deployed in the Netherlands in Amsterdam and The Hague.

Not much later in 1930, almost all ‘cart and horse garbage trucks’ were replaced by the motorized garbage truck.

Rear loader
Then the rear loader made its appearance. This garbage truck crushed the garbage directly, making it easier to work with later in the garbage disposal process. Rotterdam had the first rear loader in 1956.

Starting in 1970, garbage was no longer presented in individual garbage buckets, but in garbage bags. For this purpose the rotorpress was invented. This type of garbage truck grinds the bags, allowing the space in the garbage truck to be used as optimally as possible.

Wheelie bin garbage trucks
Last but not least, the garbage trucks that can empty wheelie bins were invented. These were deployed starting in the late 1970s.

Types of waste

De bekendste afvalsoorten die tot nu toe nog in veel steden ingezameld/opgehaald wThe best known waste types that are still collected in many cities today are:

Types of garbage trucks

There are many types of garbage trucks these days. On TrucksNL there is a wide selection of garbage trucks, so you can find the right garbage truck for every kind of waste collection.

In general, there are four types that empty containers/cloth bins: rear loaders, top loaders, front loaders and side loaders. Each type is, of course, suitable for a different type of waste collection.

Rear loaders
This type of garbage truck is the most common in the Netherlands. It can empty up to two garbage bins via the loader at the back of the truck. The loading body of this garbage truck works with a tipping system, so it can be emptied quickly when it is full.

Top loaders
Top loaders are used to empty underground containers. There’s a truck mounted crane attached to the garbage truck that can ‘pull’ the containers out of the ground.

Front loaders
A front loader has a fork on an arm at the front. This means that only one garbage man, the driver, is needed. The disadvantage is that the container must always be in front of the truck.

Side loaders
Side loaders are usually used in less urban areas. This allows the truck to keep moving while being fully loaded.

Other types of waste such as bulky waste, loose small waste littering the streets and plastic bags also have garbage trucks built for them.

Bulky waste
This requires a garbage truck with a crane or pressing mechanism. The compactor is particularly useful because the bulky waste is then immediately compacted in the loading space. The disadvantage of the compactor is that the garbage truck has to be loaded manually.

Loose small waste
Loose small waste is usually found on the street such as cans, potato chip bags, drinking bottles and more. To clean up this waste, a garbage truck with a hose that works like a ‘vacuum cleaner’ can be used. The hose is attached to the top and is often also used to vacuum underground containers.

Plastic bags
Plastic bags have a large volume. Therefore, garbage trucks with press mechanisms are always used to compress the bags.


Truck manufacturers and councils have been developing more environmentally friendly garbage trucks for some time. For example, two hybrid garbage trucks were already running in Rotterdam in 2019.

A hybrid garbage truck runs not only on an internal combustion engine, but also on and electric motor and a battery. The battery then recharges while driving. This happens because the combustion engine drives a dynamo.

Hybrid garbage trucks have the advantage of creating less noise. This is very beneficial for waste collection on early mornings. In addition, hybrid garbage trucks use 15 to 30% less fuel and emit 20% less CO2.

Sources (in Dutch):